Going into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, there had been rumours that George Russell was going to be replaced with out going BWT Racing Point Formula One Team driver Sergio Pérez. Those rumours have now been put to bed so Russell can focus purely on getting the most out of the weekend.
Russell, dubbed ‘Mr Saturday’ for his impressive qualifying performances, knows it will be important to maximise every lap with this weekend’s racing program being two practice sessions shorter. There will only be one ninety-minute free practice session on Saturday morning prior to the session in which Russell has often excelled so far this season.
Russell said: “Imola is a great track, and one that I can’t wait to drive. The weekend layout will be challenging for the teams and for us drivers, having just one practice session and being a new circuit, it will be important to maximise every lap. We had a decent race in Portimao, the car was feeling good and the pace was strong, so we are looking to continue that form into this weekend.“
Nicholas Latifi is hoping the team can take advance of the race weekend being shorter. Team’s won’t be able to collect as much data as a three day weekend so it will leave a bit of the ‘unknown’ going into qualifying and the race.
“I am excited to get back racing again. Imola is a very old school track so it is nice to get the chance to revisit some of the tracks that Formula One wouldn’t normally have gone to. Last time I drove there was in 2014, so it will be cool to rediscover it in an F1 car. I am super excited to trial the two-day weekend, similar to what we experienced at the Nürburgring,” said Latifi.
“Everyone got straight on with it, out on track at the same time, so it was chaotic but good fun. This format doesn’t allow teams a lot of time to dial everything in, so hopefully we can take advantage of that situation.”
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, previews Imola on Formula 1 return to Italy for a third time this year.
He understand that additional complexity that comes with a shorter race weekend. Not only do they teams miss out on a two practice sessions, they also lose three sets of tyres, with the limit set a ten sets.
Robson said: “This week is our third trip of the year to Italy, this time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the famous Imola circuit. Although we have raced here in the past, this is essentially another new circuit and will present all the challenges that we have faced recently in Mugello and Portimão.
“However, this week there is the additional complexity of the shorter event format. A single free practice session shortly before the qualifying practice session will put a lot of pressure on the drivers and engineers alike and we are likely to see a range of approaches from the teams.
“For this two-day event, Pirelli have made available ten sets of tyres per driver, meaning that three sets are to be returned after the free practice session. The compounds are from the middle of Pirelli’s range and are overall softer than the tyres taken to Portimão.
“Over the years, the circuit itself has been remodelled numerous times, but it retains the fast-flowing nature, the unusual anti-clockwise direction and the famous corners at Piratella, Acque Minerali and Rivazza. The run from the second part of Rivazza to the chicane at Tamburello is now flat-out passing the new pit complex.
“Setting the car up to meet the demands of such an epic circuit will be difficult in just 90 minutes, but it’s a challenge that we are looking forward to. The weather looks like it will be stable and pleasant so we should see plenty of on-track activity throughout the weekend.“